English 132: GSLC in Am Lit Fall 2009

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Gender, Sexuality, Literature, and Culture

Eng 132
Fall 2009
Instructor: Shannon Luders-Manuel

This course will focus on gender roles within society and the “madness” that can accompany and individual’s struggle against and within these roles. In each of the narratives we will read, a protagonist dies on account of this struggle. We will study the events surrounding each death and the way they represent larger themes of oppression, stereotypes, and quests for liberation. The readings will include novels, plays, and short stories—mostly from the 20th century—and we will look at protagonists of different racial, sexual, and economic backgrounds.

Required texts:
Native Son, by Richard Wright
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang
“The Lifted Veil,” by George Eliot
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
“The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka

Optional texts:
Thelma and Louise DVD

GRADING

This course will consist of weekly web responses, four quizzes, and two papers, with the following breakdown:

Responses: 25 %
Quizzes: 25 %
Papers: 50 %

RESPONSES
You will each be responsible for 12 total responses. These don’t have to be polished thoughts. The responses are to get you thinking about what you have just read and opening up conversation between you and your classmates. Each of you will select 3 response weeks that you would like to cover, and you will submit roughly 300 words (3 paragraphs) in response to one of the questions I will post on the discussion forum. Everyone else in the class who has not signed up for that week will publicly reply to one of the 300-word responses with at least 100 words (one paragraph). You can agree with this person, disagree, expand the thought, etc. Quizzes will be graded on length and timeliness only, not on content. I will however provide my own public replies as feedback when appropriate. Since our only communication will be online, it’s important that we try to create a class-wide conversation as much as we can.

LECTURES
Please read the lectures each week, either before or after reading the assigned text. The lectures will provide guidance in analyzing the text through our class’s theme of gender roles and stereotypes.

QUIZZES
The quizzes will consist of quotes from the text. For the first three quizzes I will provide two quotes from the text. Pick one quote and expand on what is happening in the scene and how it relates to the larger story. For the last quiz I will provide two quotes from each of the four texts we have read for that section. The last two quizzes will be worth twice as much as the first three, since you’ll writing about more than one text.

A NOTE ABOUT VIDEOS
I won’t lie—three of the reading selections are also available on DVD. While the latter three are all screenplays, Like Water for Chocolate is an actual novel, so some details of the novel will not be on the DVD. I don’t discourage you from seeing any of the DVDs, but I do discourage you from seeing ONLY the DVDs, even for the screenplays. My reasoning for this is that there are certain key phrases in each screenplay which you may not pick up on in the film. As you know, you’ll be responsible for expanding on quotes, and these quotes might stick better in your mind if you’ve seen them in print. You’ll also be able to search the book more effectively, if you choose to do so. You can make underlines, asterisks, arrows, etc., in the book, which you can obviously not do with a film. And it will be easier to find quotes for your papers. That said, if you feel like watching the films in addition to reading the narratives, feel free! There is obviously a certain visual perception available in films that differs from the words on the page.

HOW TO BE AN OBJECTIVE READER

Some of these readings, particularly the first two, deal with murder, suicide, rape, and child abandonment. PLEASE, when you are analyzing these texts, do not base your analysis on personal judgment of the character (for instance, saying what he or she should or should not have done). This class is about looking at the situations that created such actions, and not on the validity or invalidity of the actions themselves. You don’t have to agree with what the character has done, but please, especially when writing your papers, write through the eyes of the character. Any judgment of a character is likely to result in a lower grade.

ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Especially because this course is online, academic honesty is crucial. All discussions, quizzes and papers are assumed to be completed without the use of outside sources. This class is about personal, close analysis of the text. Anyone found lifting phrases from websites will fail that particular assignment, and there’s a good chance that he or she will also fail the course. If you fall into any problems during the semester, please talk to me about it. I’m very understanding of students’ personal difficulties.

LATE WORK

If you’re not able to complete an assignment on time due to illness, your child’s illness, etc., please let me know before the assignment is due. It’s much easier to grant an extension before the deadline than after it has passed. Assignment deadlines will be given an approximately 3-hour window past midnight due to students’ residence in different time zones. Discussions turned in a day late will receive half credit, and papers turned in late will receive a 1/3 dock of a letter grade (e.g., B to B-) for each day late.

CLASS ATMOSPHERE

Contrary to the seriousness of the above sections, my goal is to create a relaxed and positive atmosphere for the studying of literature. I encourage students to talk to me about anything, and I respond to most questions and comments within 24 hours, and often much sooner. I strongly believe in online education and will do everything in my power to make sure that you have the best online experience possible.

CALENDAR

(Some of the supplemental reading will be added here later, but will all be uploaded onto the website.)

Week 1 (9/8 - 9/11)
Native Son, First half of Book One: Fear
“Night to His Day,” Judith Lorber
Post a brief introduction to yourself in the discussion forum by Thursday at 5:00

Week 2 (9/14 - 9/18)
Native Son, Second half of Book One: Fear
“The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” Richard Wright
Post 300-word responses by Friday (9/18) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (9/20) at midnight

Week 3 (9/21 - 9/25)
Native Son, First half of Book Two: Flight
Post 300-word responses by Friday (9/25) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (9/27) at midnight

Week 4 (9/28 – 10/2)
Native Son, Second half of Book Two: Flight
Post 300-word responses by Friday (10/2) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (10/4) at midnight
First quiz by Monday (10/5) at midnight

Week 5 (10/5 - 10/9)
The Awakening, Chapters 1-12
Post 300-word responses by Friday (10/9) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (10/11) at midnight

Week 6 (10/12 - 10/16)
The Awakening, Chapters 13-24
Post 300-word responses by Friday (10/16) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (10/18) at midnight

Week 7 (10/19 - 10/23)
The Awakening, Chapters 25-39
Optional: Thelma and Louise DVD
Post 300-word responses by Friday (10/23) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (10/25) at midnight
Second quiz by Monday (10/26) at midnight

Week 8 (10/26 - 10/31)
Like Water for Chocolate, Chapters 1-4
First Paper due by Monday (11/2) at midnight

Week 9 (11/2 – 11/6)
Like Water for Chocolate, Chapters 5-8
Post 300-word responses by Friday (11/6) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (11/8) at midnight

Week 10 (11/9 - 11/13)
Like Water for Chocolate, Chapters 9-12
Post 300-word responses by Friday (11/13) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (11/15) at midnight
Third quiz by Monday (11/16) at midnight

Week 111 (11/16 - 11/20)
M. Butterfly
“Homophobia on Prime Time,” by Greta Christina
Post 300-word responses by Friday (11/20) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (11/22) at midnight

Week 12 (11/23 - 12/27)
“The Lifted Veil”
Post 300-word responses by Friday (11/27) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (11/29) at midnight

Week 13 (11/30 - 12/4)
Death of a Salesman
Post 300-word responses by Friday (12/4) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (12/6) at midnight

Week 15 (12/7 - 12/11)
“The Metamorphosis”
Post 300-word responses by Friday (12/11) at 5:00
Post 100-word responses by Sunday (12/13) at midnight
Fourth quiz by Monday (12/14) at midnight

Week 16 (12/15 – 12/19
Second paper due by Thursday (12/17) at midnight


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